Thursday 3 am .. 24 March 1603 .. death of Queen Elizabeth I ..
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In 1603 the Doge of Venice sent Carlo Giovanni Scaramelli as envoy to the court of Queen Elizabeth. Since 1557 the English had resented the breach in diplomatic relations with Venice, but now the Venetians had every reason to re-engage: Scaramelli was to petition the queen on curtailing English piracy in the Mediterranean.
Scaramelli’s mission lasted just a few months, but he wrote vivid descriptions of his time in England. In particular he gave a wonderful account of his audience with Elizabeth in February, one month before her death. Beyond that point Scaramelli’s information, while interesting, is second hand. I’ve edited his despatches, but there is still plenty to read, so this is a long post.
For me the most telling detail is Elizabeth’s comment at the end of the audience. She and Scaramelli seem to have conversed in the language of diplomacy, Italian, and Elizabeth finished off with this: “But I do not know if I have spoken Italian well, still I think so, for I learnt it when a child, and I believe I have not forgotten it” – an invitation to praise, which Scaramelli gave in later despatches when he enthused over her ability in nine languages. On any occasion, even at the age of sixty nine, Elizabeth was the smartest person in the room.
What follows is from Scaramelli’s reports in the Calendar of State Papers Venetian (1592-1603) pp.531-570.